Hello readers, friends, family! Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading.
What I'm about to share is quite personal and I haven't been ready to write about it until this very moment.
Short story :: I was diagnosed with Phase One Adrenal Fatigue and Elevated Cortisol levels in August 2015 ... AND I HEALED MYSELF.
By June 2016 I was declared "back to normal" by my functional medicine doctor and by late August I was cleared to run long distances again. Big sigh of relief.
The long story? I could write a freaking book about it.
(And I probably will).
Why I've kept this A secret
I was hesitant to share too much of my story earlier this year. I had to first prove to myself that I could heal and then turn to help all of you.
I've also been kicking butt starting my own thriving business with FitVistaand focusing on all the good things going on in my public forums, such as my blog and Instagram.
And ironically, it was another challenge for me to ace = Could I heal myself from stress?
A+ to you Michelle . . . .
Learning to unwind my patterns of stress, my modes of operating in the world, my need for perfection, my straight A-student mentality has been the hardest thing I've ever done.
Learning how to relax and CHILL-OUT is NOT easy.
It struck at the very core of my self-identity.
See, the type of person I am, the work ethic I have, my need to constantly be "doing" and my sheer love and passion for so many things, activities and learning (!) has gotten me where I am today.
But it also got me sick, over-whelmed, burnt-out and at risk for longer-term health problems.
Does this sound like you?
Take a moment.
Take a deep breath.
The root of many lifestyle diseases, cancer, amenorrhea and auto-immune issues is chronic stress. I'm glad I caught it early, put in the hard work to make lifestyle and mindset shifts and am now so proud and happy to say I'm all better!
Who is at risk for Adrenal Fatigue?
I'm convinced that at least half of New-Yorkers and high-achieving, successful individuals have some level of adrenal and stress issues at play. Cortisol = the stress hormone. This work hard / play hard mentality only exacerbates the issues of elevated cortisol in the body.
I thought leaving my job in Finance and pursing my passion for health and wellness would magically make the stress go away. It didn't.
It was replaced with new forms of stress. Because I was still the same person. I still operated the same way. I still had the same software.
Because wherever you go, there you are. You know?
Levels of cortisol can stay chronically elevated if you're exposing yourself to the same stressors over and over. You literally create ruts in your neurological pathways that continually trigger the stress response. And unfortunately, you don't go to sleep at night and wake-up with magically lower levels (although sleep helps a ton).
You need to make adjustments to your lifestyle and chip away at chronically high stress levels over time. No pill can do this. But time arbitrage, SLEEP, walks in nature and a literal re-wiring of your neurological stress-response can.
But before we get to all the healing aspects, let's talk STRESS in the first place.
The big six letter S word.
Stress is evolutionary good. It's designed to protect us. When we're getting chased by the tiger, we want adrenaline and cortisol pumping through our body.
But we're not getting chased by the tiger anymore. Stress comes in the form of emails from the boss, mile-long to-do lists, rushing to pick up the kids, getting stuck in traffic, being late for work.
This is chronic stress.
Physical symptoms include shallow breathing, tightness in the chest and torso, anxiety, feeling wired and tired at night, lethargic and exhausted at times, always being "so busy and so stressed", unable to sleep, contemplating burn-out and dealing on and off with overwhelm.
Some of these things are parts of life! (Especially for you new moms out there.) And I get it, work projects or life-events can throw you in a tail-spin for a couple weeks.
But if this is your normal every day existence, let's talk about it.
Over the years, this cortisol can build and build in your system and impact your health. Not only does it put on weight around your midsection (your dear body is trying to protect your internal organs), but it can impact your happiness and quality of life. When we're feeling blah, we're much more likely to reach for high-calorie, high-density foods, and thus gain weight. Or maybe we're "so stressed" we're not eating nutrient-rich foods, and thereby impacting our health for the worse.
I'm fascinated by the intersection between nutrition and stress and this is where I've spent most of my time in the last couple years, researching, reading, working with clients.
Whew, Deep Breath Folks!
That felt extremely personal to write and if I helped one person, I'll consider this a success.
Does this sound like it could be something going on for you?
I'll be posting soon on my 20 Ways to Get Adrenal Fatigue and see what triggers you might be exposing yourself to daily.
Remember this took me years to figure out. And now I work with many of my private nutrition clients to improve their eating patterns, lifestyle habits AND stress-responses. It's all part of our health folks.
Having a nutrition coach that can talk to you about stress can really help. Drop me a line here to tell me what's going on for you : firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd truly love to hear.
Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing (please share!), and stay tuned for my upcoming series of posts on Adrenal Fatigue and tips that will work for you.
You ARE Calm & Strong.
PS: I AM running the NYC Marathon on November 6th! My functional medicine doctor at Parsley Health cleared me to run on August 29th and I've been safely and steadily training, being careful not to overwhelm my system. Am I going to beat my personal best time of 3:54? NO. Am I going to get my dream time of 3:43? HECK NO. But I'm determined to "run for fun" and think of it as a gift to myself because I HEALED MYSELF. So yes, I'm gifting myself the present of running the NYC Marathon for taking the steps to heal myself from Adrenal Fatigue. I told you I'm crazy!
Do I think a marathon is good for you body? No.
Slow long-distance Running can be a big time stressor for your system, especially those who run "junk miles." I've been focusing on strength training, runs of 4-6 miles, a few longer runs (11-14 miles tops) and mostly interval work on the treadmill for speed. Very modified form of training, but SAFE!
To end on a happy note, I'd love for you to cheer me on during the big day! I'll post my BIB # and ways to track me via the Marathon App through my Instagram before race weekend. Keep tabs through my Insta here! I can't wait to see you on the course! CALM & STRONG is my motto, so cheer it loud!